Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon is a presumptive finalist in the Houston Texans’ coaching search.
While chairman and CEO Cal McNair did not mention by name either Gannon or San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, he did mention that they had to wait until after conference championship weekend to resume talks with some candidates. Both Gannon and Ryans’ squads face off in the NFC Championship Game.
If the Texans go with Gannon, he would be able to help Houston’s secondary.
The Texans would already have a defensive back Gannon is familiar with in cornerback Steven Nelson, who spent 2021 with the Eagles. Opposite of Nelson, Gannon had All-Pro Darius Slay, who returned to his fourth Pro Bowl after a one-season absence.
While Nelson left to join the Texans in 2022, Gannon was able to elevate the Eagles’ pass defense. Of course, adding safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and cornerback James Bradberry helped, but Philadelphia went from 11th-best in 2021 to first in 2022 in pass defense.
The Texans don’t have an established Pro Bowler, but they do have a cornerback with a high ceiling in Derek Stingley. Gannon would be able to help Stingley reach his potential just the same way he was able to get Slay back to a Pro Bowl level.
Gannon has also shown the ability to develop niches for players. Despite being hampered with injuries and appearing in nine games, Avonte Maddox was having a solid season as Philadelphia’s nickel cornerback.
The 2022 campaign also demonstrates that if Gannon is given the pieces, he can upgrade a pass defense. Not only do the Texans have safety Jalen Pitre entering his second season, but they have six picks in the top-103 along with $37.3 million in salary cap space, the fifth-most in the league. If there isn’t another blue-chip prospect they can draft, they can certainly find a quality veteran to place on the back end.